There”s only one race on Tuesday”s Republican primary ballot — but its outcome could be felt in north Mississippi for years to come.
Tupelo State Sen. Alan Nunnelee, former Fox News analyst Angela McGlowan of Oxford, and former Eupora Mayor Henry Ross are vying for the Republican nomination for the First Congressional District. If needed, a runoff will be held June 22. The winner will face U.S. Rep. Travis Childers of Booneville, who is unopposed on the Democratic side, in November.
The primary is important because Childers could be in trouble. Republican strategists see the seat, held by a Democrat in a conservative area hard-hit by the economic downturn, as in play in November.
Childers, who labels himself a “pro-gun, pro-life Mississippian,” is a conservative blue dog, who voted against the health care overhaul and, most recently, against the vote in the House to overturn the military”s “don”t ask, don”t tell” rules for gays in the military. Still, incumbents in general are threatened as Americans express dissatisfaction with lack of improvement in the economy.
Among Childers” potential challengers, Nunnelee has the widest name recognition. No polls numbers have been released, but Nunnelee leads in the money race. According to The Associated Press, Nunnelee has raised $642,968, compared to $127,251 for Ross and $87,093 for McGlowan.
Nunnelee and Ross agreed to sit down with Dispatch editors for interviews in past weeks. McGlowan did not make time for a formal in-person interview, but spoke to a reporter by phone.
All three mentioned the economy as a top priority — and all espoused the need for fiscal responsibility in Washington. All also played to the district”s conservative base, who will be motivated to vote in the primary. Nunnelee told Dispatch editors that he and the Tea Party, for example, are for many of the same things. McGlowan pledged to put God at the center of government and abolish the U.S. Department of Education. Ross was most specific listing things that might fire up conservatives but have no basis in political reality, such as impeaching Supreme Court justices that “violate the Constitution.”
The Dispatch has decided not to endorse a candidate in the primary. Voters can read each candidate”s own words, in this publication and in other news sources, and come to their own decision.
We believe the important thing here, is getting out to vote, for whomever your choice may be — the ballot may not be big, but the implications are.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.